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Gero, G. (1962). Psychoanalytic Concepts of Depression: By Myer Mendelson. Springfield, Ill.: Charles C Thomas, 1960. 170 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 31:92-96.

(1962). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 31:92-96

Psychoanalytic Concepts of Depression: By Myer Mendelson. Springfield, Ill.: Charles C Thomas, 1960. 170 pp.

Review by:
George Gero

While reading this thoughtful, stimulating, and lucid book, one re-experiences the excitement of the early period of psychoanalysis when discoveries were new and fresh and the vistas opened up by Freud loomed wide and unexplored. In the first section, Mendelson offers an excellent survey of the literature in which the various contributions are described with clarity and understanding and the development of theories and their variations is made plain. He reviews the evolution of the thinking of psychoanalysts on depression against the background of the history of psychiatry around the turn of the century. Kraepelin, he points out, brought a new dimension into psychiatry, the dimension of time. His nosological system was based on extended periods of observation. Diagnostic categories could be delineated according to the course of the illness because patients were followed up for longer periods. The diagnosis of manic-depressive psychosis was verified if the patient recovered from his depression or if the depression was replaced by an extreme mood swing in the opposite direction. Freud and psychoanalysis brought another new dimension to psychiatric thinking—the dimension of depth. Freud's original ideas opened new avenues toward understanding the depressive process. Abraham's work was another turning point; it was the first consistent and systematic attempt to work out a theory of symptom-formation based on the libido theory. Rado's paper, The Problem of Melancholia (1928), reflects the new era in psychoanalysis which started with Freud's book, The Ego and the Id (1927), the era characterized by the introduction of the structural theory. Rado's paper also brings a new theme into the discussion—the problem of regulation of self-esteem—which is an essential one in the psychopathology of depressive states. This theme recurs repeatedly in later writings as it obviously represents a source of depression different from that first discovered, namely, depression following an object loss as the result of an ambivalence conflict.

Gero's paper, The Construction of Depression (1936), is then reviewed.

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